Summary: In the Bible, we find wickedness compared to a fire. We understand the analogy. Isaiah used such a comparison. The same fires which destroyed Israel may well be smoldering in our nation today
THE LIFTING OF SMOKE
Text: Isaiah 9:18
18 For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.
How many of you have ever been near a fire that was raging uncontrollably? This is a scary sight.
I have read stories of fire fighters who have fought forest fires out west and in America's northwest. Sometimes those fire fighters lost their lives in such blazes. Fire is a frightening thing.
In the Bible, we find wickedness compared to a fire. We understand the analogy. Isaiah used such a comparison.
Notice again verses 18-20:
18 For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke. 19 Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother. 20 And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm:
Today we see wickedness burning like a flame in our nation today.
Notice with me as we consider and make comparison to what Isaiah saw in his day the corruption and degradation of the Israelite people. He had seen the jaws of sinful pride sink her teeth into this great people.
As he witnessed her downfall he described what he saw as burning like a fire.
I believe that the same fires which destroyed Israel may well be smoldering in our nation today.
1. THE PEOPLE WERE FILLED WITH PRIDE (VS. 9-10)
9 And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart, 10 The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.
God was sending judgment on the Israelite people. They made two mistakes. First, they ignored the cause of the calamities. Second, they arrogantly boasted that they would rebuild. It is as if they thought they did not need God.
18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
As I look at America I see an extremely proud people. We are proud of being Americans but we are also arrogant toward other people in our world. In addition, we are blind when bad things happen to us. We wander along showing little concern for the tragedies that strike us.
Listen to what Abraham Lincoln said of us almost 150 years ago. "We've grown in numbers and wealth and power as no other nation has grown...We've vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our own hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient..., too proud to pray to the God that made us."
2. THEY WERE INTERNALLY PERPLEXED (VS. 16, 19)
16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
19 Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.
There was poor leadership from their national leaders, confusion and anarchy among the people.
This is the 51st state in America -- the state of "Confusion."
There are those who demand that government get out of our personal lives -- except for pregnant woman.
Supporters of the health insurance industry scream at us, "You don't want a government bureaucrat coming between you and your doctor." But they ignore the fact that companies in that business maintain huge staffs whose primary purpose is to cut or deny claims for procedures recommended by your doctor, or to terminate coverage they consider to be an impediment to company profits.
Retirees join in on the clamor against "socialized medicine" -- unless it happens to go by the name of Medicare.
Congressmen rail against government waste, but are unwilling to trim their own nonessential spending, or cut any of their lavish benefits. They have the best universal health care available, but stand in the way of anything like that for the rest of us.